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Output halted of drug used in executions

The complex procedures for states to execute condemned inmates became much more complicated Friday, as the only U.S. maker of a key drug used in the procedure announced it no longer would make it.

Hospira Inc. said in a statement that it was halting production of sodium thiopental, an anesthetic that is one of three drugs used in lethal injection procedures nationwide.

A shortage of that drug had halted executions in several states in recent months. But Hospira said at the time it expected to resume producing the drug and that it would be available early this year.

Since then, however, international controversy has erupted over use of the drug in executions in the United States, particularly after it was learned that some states, including California, had obtained supplies from Britain, where capital punishment is outlawed.

The ban on executions there and in Europe further complicated matters. Hospira, which marketed the drug as an anesthetic for hospital use and which opposed its use in executions, said it had planned to resume production of it in its Italian plant.

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